Digital transformation, a tentative stepping stone or a leap?

Businesses can struggle to overhaul manual processes that have been deeply ingrained

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You don’t have to attend too many business meetings these days before the topic of “digital transformation” pops up. The increasingly common phrase continues to shoot up the corporate agenda and it’s not hard to understand why.

Defined as the change associated with the application of digital technology, digital transformation provides businesses with time efficiencies, cost savings and better deployment of resources. As technology is applied to once repetitive, mundane and inordinate manual processes, it allows a business to streamline its operations and focus on driving sales and growth.

Across all industries, digital technology has become fundamental to organisational success, with businesses that are slow to react likely to fall behind and lose their competitive advantage. It’s an opinion backed by research and advisory firm Gartner, which predicts that a lack of digital business competence could cause 25 per cent of businesses to lose their competitive ranking this year. However, digitisation is not just about technology. Even access to the best technology does not guarantee success.

In an increasingly connected world, sometimes even the most forward-thinking businesses are held back by having to rely on integrating with firms that are more cautious and less technologically-inclined. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the supply chain. Here, businesses of all types interact, each bringing their own way of working and home-grown processes – which of course throw up challenges.

Although businesses are now generally aware that they need to automate the back office, sometimes there is a disconnect between having that knowledge and actually taking the leap into, for what is to them, the digital unknown. There are a variety of reasons for this, whether it’s company culture, budgets, legacy systems or organisational silos. Often, businesses can struggle to overhaul old-fashioned and manual processes that have been deeply ingrained.

The adoption of e-invoicing is a case in point of this. For many years, Tungsten Network and our partners have encouraged the adoption of smart digital technology into the accounts payable process. With only 9 per cent or 42bn of the world’s 500bn invoices being digitised, many of the businesses we deal with face the issues mentioned previously. As you can imagine, this causes businesses to miss out on a huge opportunity.

This is something Tungsten has taken on board with the recent launch of Invoice Data Capture (IDC), to help suppliers on the journey to digital payments. This acts as a stepping stone for businesses that want to transition to a paperless environment but may initially require a longer transition time. Ultimately, it allows suppliers to ease themselves into the world of digital e-invoicing, making the digital unknown known and removing the need for any leaps.

The digital revolution will continue to evolve. Some businesses will join quicker than others and those who fail to join quickly enough will feel the repercussions. At Tungsten Network, we understand the barriers that businesses face in integrating digital technology into their processes. IDC is one example of how we reduce those barriers so their own digital revolution can be kick-started.

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